A MARCH against legalised abortion saw an estimated 5,000 people gather outside Government Buildings in Dublin on Saturday.
The march was organised by the “Rally for Life” committee representing several anti-abortion groups across Ireland, namely “Precious Life” from Northern Ireland and “Youth Defence” from the Republic.
The theme of the march was “Enda, keep your promise” – a reference to the commitment Fine Gael made during the election to oppose legalised abortion in Ireland. Speaking to the crowd gathered outside Dáil Éireann, former MEP and Eurovision song contest winner Dana Rosemary Scallon said people had come from all over Ireland and abroad to show support for the rally.
“Our Constitution belongs to the people. It does not belong to the Dáil – the majority of people in this country do not want legalised abortion in Ireland,” she said.
“Europe has no right to force abortion on the people of this country.”
Many of the marchers were children.
“It’s a pro-life event so it’s about the children. It’s always a positive day and I think it’s very good for them,” said Donna Heaney from Dublin, who brought her six children with her to the rally.
Led by an open-top double-decker bus that played pop music, the marchers sported large yellow smiley-face badges and carried balloons.
“It is a happy day to celebrate life. If you ever saw an abortion rally it wouldn’t be like this – by us dancing and singing and clapping, that is a prayer,” said Jacqueline Doherty from Strabane, Co Tyrone.
“The one and only main message is that we want to protect the unborn child in the womb because Ireland is one of the few countries in the whole wide world that remains abortion-free.”
The march started at the Garden of Remembrance at about 2.30pm and made its way across Dublin before finishing on Molesworth Street outside Government Buildings an hour later.
There, several of the organisers of the rally made speeches calling on those gathered to continue to oppose any move to legalise abortion here.
“We will not accept the legalisation of abortion, not now, not ever, not in our country and not in our name” Niamh Uí Bhriain of the rally committee said.
A counter-demonstration of roughly 200 pro-choice advocates was organised to coincide with the anti-abortion rally.
This took place at the spire on O’Connell Street.
The pro-choice supporters stood to the side of the march as it made its way down O’Connell Street, chanting slogans and holding up pro-choice banners.
“The main aim of our protest is a counter-demo to show that there is opposition to what they’re doing and that there is opposition to abortion not being legal in Ireland,” said Suzanne Lee, who led the pro-choice chants from a megaphone.